Guide to video posts on Substack

Note: These features are only available on video posts, not videos uploaded and embedded into a regular post.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to use tools for publishing video posts that you can record or upload directly to your Substack publication.

On video posts, you can:

  • Automatically generate transcripts
  • Share audio from the video directly to your podcast RSS feed
  • Offer exclusive content to paying subscribers and a free preview of paid videos to all viewers
  • Easily share clips of your video in a note or on social media

How to get started on a video post

  1. Head to your Home or Posts tab and select “+New post”. From the menu, select “Video”.

  1. In the draft post, click “Record” to record a video using your mobile device or laptop or “Select file” to upload a video file.
  • If you record a video, your webcam will appear on the page, and you may be prompted to allow your internet browser to access your computer's camera and microphone. Click on the red circle to start recording, and click on the red circle again to stop recording.
  • If you upload a video file, the upload will automatically begin, and the videos’s settings dashboard will appear.

Tip: The accepted video types are 1080 p/2K or smaller, MP4, H.264, and AAC; the recommended maximum size is 20 GB.

  1. While the video is processing, you can continue to write and edit the draft body. Once the video is uploaded, select “Done”. You can return to this settings dashboard anytime.

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If you have a Substack podcast setup, you’ll see the option to add a different audio track for RSS. You may want to use this option if you'd like to use a different, higher-quality audio file for those listening on podcast players versus those watching your video post. 

Slide the toggle next to "Use different audio track for RSS" and select the three dots. Click remove and then upload your own audio file.

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  1. The video will appear at the top of the post and cannot be moved. Select the following icons:

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  • Settings icon: The video’s settings page is where you can replace or delete the video, add a host or guest by name or email address, or generate a transcript.
  • Lock icon: If you have payments enabled on your publication, you can edit and set a free preview of your video for free viewers.
  • Download icon: Click on this icon to download any videos you've uploaded or recorded onto the post.
  • Image icon: Here, you can set a thumbnail for your post by uploading an image or selecting a still from the video.
  • Trash icon: Select this icon to delete the video from your post.
  1. Once you’re ready to publish the video post, select “Continue”.
  2. If you have a Substack podcast setup, you’ll see the option to add the audio to your podcast RSS feed and edit the episode notes. Toggling this on lets subscribers listen to the video audio on external podcast players.
  3. After adjusting your publishing settings such as selecting which audience can view the post, adding tags, or selecting the post preview image, select "Send to <audience> now".

Tip: To remove a video post that's appearing in your Podcast tab, click on the the settings button in the video post. Scroll down to "Add audio to podcast RSS feed." Toggle this off and save the post. This should remove it from the podcast tab.

How do I create a free preview of my video post?

Flexible paywalls offer free subscribers a taste of premium content. You can select a portion of your video to offer for free, which will also sync with the audio feed. 

Watch how to create a preview of your video for free subscribers and visitors

To create a free preview, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the lock icon, and select which parts you’d like to be available to all viewers from the video timeline. 
  2. Select “Set free preview”.
  3. When viewing the free preview, free subscribers will be prompted to upgrade to a paid subscription to view the full video.

Interactive AI-generated transcripts 

Whether published as a podcast episode or not, every video post that has audio will automatically receive an AI-generated transcript. This transcript can be included on the post page, allowing viewers to click on any part of the transcript to jump to that section in the video.

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To edit a transcript, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Transcript tab and your auto-generated transcript will appear.
  2. Select the three dots and click on "Correct transcript" and make your edits. Select "Save" to save any changes to the text. 
  3. Click on the magnifying icon to search for specific words in the transcript.

When you publish the video post, a collapsable transcript will appear on the post. To remove the transcript, slide the green toggle to the left next to "Show transcripts and captions" on the transcript settings.

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Tip: If you'd like to add your own transcript to the video post, select "Upload transcript" on the transcript tab. Formats accepted are .txt file, .vtt file, and .srt file. If you show the transcript on your post, the captions and timestamps will be synced to allow readers to easily navigate to different parts of your video.

What will my viewers see?

Custom shareable clips

Viewers can create and share custom clips. These can be shared as links, directing traffic to the full video, or downloaded for sharing on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. 

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To use the clipping feature, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the share menu on a web post next to the video.
  2. Select what parts of the video you’d like to share from the video timeline. Select “Create clip.”
  3. Select the subtitles icon if you want subtitles to appear in the clip.
  4. Once you create a clip, you can copy a link or click on a social media icon to share it. It will be automatically emailed to you. 

Easier controls

Subscribers can watch your videos with ease:

  • Clicking on the "cc" icon enables closed captions or subtitles on your video posts.
  • Keyboard shortcuts for navigation such as command+k to pause the video and command+m to mute the video.
  • Selecting the two screens icon allows viewers to watch videos in a floating window
  • Ability to share a specific timestamp in the video by hovering over the spot in the video timeline and clicking "Share from 0:00:0".

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Tip: On the Substack app, viewers can watch your video posts. The apps feature an inline player, allowing your viewers to read and watch at the same time, and keep their place when navigating back to a video they watched partway.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I see how many times my video has been played?

On your Posts page, expand the video post to see detailed statistics. We'll show your video play count, hours watched, details about new subscriptions, and how many times your post has been shared.

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How long does it take for a video to process?

Processing times depend on the file size. While this happens, you can write a draft using the post editor. To cancel the upload, click "X" next to the video upload on the video’s settings page.

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